How to Build an Obstacle-Leaping, Adversity-Defeating, High Performance Hockey Team

Every Head Coach should take advantage of the opportunity to create a Culture Statement that outlines the specific values and beliefs that will be used as a filter to make his/her decisions. These values and beliefs are to be used by every team member to guide their decisions, actions and behaviours. The values and beliefs become the “way things are done on this team”.

Team meetings are an excellent opportunity to talk about the teams’ values and beliefs and this is best accomplished with video and concrete examples where members of the team have demonstrated positive examples of leadership, mental toughness, selflessness, character, etc. These meetings may also be an opportunity to break down situations where team values and beliefs weren’t followed and a negative consequence resulted. The good and not so good…we learn from our mistakes.

Team building sessions are a great way to reinforce the teams values and beliefs. Every coaching staff must put on their creative hats to provide opportunities for players to engage in matters related to the team culture. Player engagement is a great opportunity for reinforcing values and beliefs and giving players a chance to lead.

Selection of the team captains is an excellent team building opportunity. The coach has an opportunity to put in place a process that engages players and coaches. The decisions on the captains must be filtered through the values and beliefs of the team.

One on one player development meetings provide a perfect forum and opportunity to address the values and beliefs of the team as they may relate to the individual team member. The values and beliefs of the team are the same for every player on the team. In some cases a player may need to engage in dialogue with the coaches about a specific issue(s) or subjects where he/she’s behaviours may not be properly aligned with the values and beliefs of the team. Players should want to develop to their potential and there is nothing more important than explaining the process for how things are done on the team to accelerate the growth of
the individual and the group. Telling players the truth is important and this is an excellent forum to do just that.

Head Coach and coaching staff behaviours on and off the playing surface must be aligned with the values and beliefs of the team. The leaders of the team are expected to make others better. Walking the talk and demonstrating 100% commitment to the values and beliefs of the team is essential.

Pre and post game speeches provide a perfect time to message the values and beliefs of the team. Short, clear and concise references to specific values and beliefs at times when the players most need to be reminded of what the team is all about.

A team covenant, mantra(s) with signage specific to the teams values and beliefs posted in the dressing room and around the facility help to focus the team on what is important on a daily basis.

As a Coach you must operationalize the core values and beliefs for your team to ensure they become part of your daily thinking, decision making and coaching process. All decisions and actions are filtered through these key core values and beliefs. The focus can’t be on wins and losses or position in the standings. Focus must be on the coaching process because when you nail the process down the outcomes will take care of themselves. Start coaching your players up with a great process that includes:

  • A purpose statement so players clearly understand why they are playing,
  • Core values & beliefs to filter all decisions, actions and behaviours of team members,
  • A development process that addresses skills and abilities and tactics to be successful.

The best analytics are your eyes. As coaches you can determine a lot about your group by watching how they practice and play in games. You can’t control the outcome of games but you certainly can control the process. You have the opportunity to coach your players about how to compete and play the game of hockey and the game of life.

Mike has over 25 years of coaching experience as a Technical Mentor Coach of people in Business and Sports. Now retired after 35 years of public service, Mike created the TLPF website to support the development of competitive minor hockey players. Mike works with competitive hockey players to help them learn how to play faster which requires tactical knowledge and skills.